"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."
1 John 3:16-24
Love one another. Love one another. Love one another. How many times have I said those words to my children over the years? I know what I meant when I said those words, and God has his expectations for you and me when he said them. Those three little words, "Love one another" carry a lot of weight. Let's dig a little deeper and wonder why and how we should love one another.
As I read the first few verses of this passage it became clear to me that I need to pay attention to what is being said. Verse 16 leads with, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." Those eight words sum up the greatest act of love - of all time! When Jesus died on the cross for you and me, we became connected through love.
Verse 17 God lays out an expectation for us about that love; "If Christ laid down his life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." Take a minute and realize the responsibility that comes with those words. Jesus did something for us, and he is instructing us to do something for others. We are clearly being asked to put our love for Jesus Christ into action by showing love to others.
Is this a new thought for you? Did you make a connection between your love for Christ and your love for others? Take some time today to think of ways you could show love to others. Also, make sure you ask yourself who "others" are in your life. Don't confine yourself to only people you already know and care about. The next part takes some commitment. Don't just think about these things, but act on them. Be intentional about how you can show God's love to people near or far from you.
Verse 19 goes on to say, "Then we know we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence." Those words are such a comfort to me. There is a peace that comes from belonging. I want to belong, don't you? When we belong, we are connected through a common purpose. And in a similar way, I find comfort in the word, "rest". The dictionary defines rest with the following words, "relax, refresh, recover strength or to be supported." Since I belong to Christ and I can find rest in him, that gives me an unmeasurable confidence and strength to do what is asked of me. I am able to go into action connected and supported by God's power, not my own. Take time to "rest in his presence" today.
I try to take my relationship with God very seriously as I hope you do too. Verse 22 says, "and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." How awesome it is to know that God is right there with us. And when we believe in Jesus, we are in relationship, ready to receive his unconditional love. And in return we obey him and try our best to do things that are pleasing to him. Take some time to honestly consider your relationship with God. Do you take time to ask? Do you obey his commands? Do you try to do things that are pleasing to him? Acknowledge and reflect on your answers and make a plan to take action.
Lastly, God gives us a command; "to believe in the Son, Jesus Christ and to love one another." Verse 24 says, "Those who obey his commands live in him and he in them." God lives in us through the Spirit. I can't think of any relationship that could be closer. We can boldly proclaim the Spirit lives in us. Take time today to be grateful for who God is, for the saving grace of his Son and for the closeness of the Spirit that teaches and guides us. Be aware and open to love as the spirit moves you.
I will end with where I start, love one another. Never stop looking for opportunities to share your faith and support others in their growth and kingdom work. Be intentional in your search. Make it a priority in your daily life. Be willing to sacrifice time, money, possessions and some of yourself for others. Jesus has displayed the greatest act of love for us, now let us follow through with sharing that love with others. Have you heard the phrase, "blessed to be a blessing"? The smallest sacrifice you make will bless your heart and God's. Let the joy of God's love live in you and through you each and everyday.
- Anne Brower
As we grow closer to God, we come to love one another more authentically. Spend the day fasting from social media and use that space to pray. Then take a moment, to reach out to a friend to let them know you care.
God, you showed us the clearest example of love in sending into the world your Son, Jesus, to die for us and for our salvation. Show us what it means to sacrifice in the way you sacrificed for us. Amen.
In your journal or a blank sheet of paper, draw or write your thoughts.